Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir : First Lesbian Prime Minister From Iceland

February 10, 2009

An Icelandic political party says it will name an openly gay government minister to the post of interim prime minister.

The country’s Social Democratic Alliance Party has picked Johanna Sigurdardottir, 66, to be prime minister in the wake of this week’s collapse of Iceland’s ruling conservative coalition, The Daily Mail reported Wednesday.


Iceland’s Coat of Arms

Currently Iceland’s social affairs minister, Sigurdardottir, described as a former flight attendant who rose through the political ranks, could confirmed as early as this week by Iceland’s new ruling coalition of the Alliance Party and the Left-Green movement, the newspaper said.

Sigurdardottir will face a massive job of rebuilding Iceland’s economy, which has been battered the collapse of three major banks saddled by huge debt loads. The bank failures triggered a plunge in Iceland’s currency, inflation and rising unemployment.

About Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir is an Icelandic politician and the current Prime Minister of Iceland. She had previously been Iceland’s Minister of Social Affairs and Social Security from 1987–1994 and 2007–2009. She has been a member of the Althing (Iceland’s parliament) for Reykjavík constituencies since 1978, winning re-election on eight successive occasions. She became Iceland’s first female Prime Minister on 1 February 2009; she also became the world’s first openly gay head of government of the modern era. Jóhanna is a social democrat and Iceland’s longest-serving member of Parliament. In the 1990s, when she lost a bid to head the party, she lifted her first and declared “My time will come!” – a phrase that became a popular Icelandic expression.


Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland

On 26 January 2009, Prime Minister Geir Haarde tendered the resignation of the coalition government to the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. The move followed sixteen weeks of protests over the government’s handling of the financial crisis, protests which had intensified from 20 January.

After talks with the leaders of the five parties represented in the Althing, the President asked the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Movement to form a new government and to prepare for elections in the spring.

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir was proposed as Prime Minister for the new government, not least because of her popularity among the general public and her good relations with the Left-Green Movement. An opinion poll by Capacent Gallup in December 2008 found 73% approval of her actions as a minister, more than any other member of the Cabinet: she was also the only minister to have improved her approval ratings over 2008.

The new government needs the support of the Progressive Party in the Althing. Negotiations continued up to the evening of 31 January, and the new Cabinet was appointed on 1 February.

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